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September 16, 2022 —

Meet the Maker: Susie Zumiri of The Limoncino

Creative couple Susie and Matteo Zumiri are founders of The Limoncino, a company crafting beautiful artisanal furniture from their sunny workshop in the Portuguese countryside. We talk to Susie to find out more…
Sine Fleet - contributingeditor of 91 Magazine
Sine Fleet
91 Magazine contributing editor,
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Hi Susie, how would you describe your work?

Handmade artisanal furniture and home décor, inspired by the traditional antique Tuscan farmhouses. 

What inspired the idea of setting up The Limoncino?

It all started with an unshakeable desire to revive the love of bespoke artisanal furniture. Artisanal craft has always been a part of our journey, through three generations of Tuscan woodworkers. During the pandemic however, the drive to implement new ideas to our craft inspired us to renew this passion, and so The Limoncino was born!

Matteo and Susie owners of artisan furniture company The LimoncinoSofia Hook Rack Maritime Pine The Limoncino

What’s the story behind the name?

For us, the lemon and its colour conveys the idea of freshness, sunny mornings, country landscapes, friendly and yummy dinners in a peaceful and heartwarming setting. The Limoncino is a popular liquor, the essence of how to make sweet something sour, just like life can be at times.

What did you do before setting up your business?

We owned a real estate and relocation business in the Algarve.

Where do you find creative inspiration?

Most of our inspiration comes from travel, especially beautiful Tuscan farmhouses and villages, Provence in France, antique markets and fairs.2714

How would you describe your style?

Rustic, cottage, farmhouse, simple, vintage Italian style. We wanted to give all our pieces a feel of the old Tuscan farmhouses handmade from an artisan. We feel that artisan furniture is all about profound craftsmanship, a total contrast to the commercial manufacturing evident in many regular furniture stores.

Are there themes that run through your work?

Our theme is to keep as much as possible the classical vintage look and feel of the furniture. The pride and joy of our products is that they are handmade, so every single piece will be totally different and they won’t look like they come out of a factory. 

Describe a typical working day…

 At the moment we don’t have a typical day, although we are working towards it. Our aim is to go to the bottega (workshop) three times a week, either to fulfil orders or to create new collections.

Handmade wooden chair, wooden table and wooden rack from artisanal furniture company, The Limoncino

What are the values behind your business?

It’s a family, local, and handmade business. We would love to keep it as such. Our aim is to keep the scale of our business small so that we can cater to every single piece with the love and joy with which we started this journey.

What sort of space do you work in?

We have purchased a small bottega not far from the centre of Portimao. Once it’s all done, we are hoping to create a space for us and others that convey the same emotions that our products express.

Susie owner of artisan furniture company The Limoncino making furniture in their Portuguese studio

Susie owner of artisan furniture company The Limoncino making terrazzo coasters in their Portuguese studio

Tell us about your location…

It’s out in the country. There’s nothing much around and we love that. There’s nothing better than being able to create something in an environment of peace and tranquillity.

How valuable is the online community to your work?

Very valuable. They tell us either directly or indirectly what they like and don’t like. The amount of love and support we have received confirmed that we are in the right place.

Handmade terrazzo topped wooden stool created by artisanal furniture makers The Limoncino

Luna Candle Holder Off White The Limoncino

Working as an independent maker – what are the joys, and what are the challenges?

Although at the end of the day we are physically exhausted, there’s no greater joy to see a product come from nothing and be made into a unique piece. The freedom of having your own schedule is also very liberating, and best of all, we work really well together. It’s just beautiful to live this experience with the person you cherish the most.

 The challenges have been few just like any other business. A major one is covering many roles within the company since it’s just us – although we wanted and still want to keep it simple. There is still a lot of research and work in the beginning to make it so. No matter how well prepared and well intentioned we are, you learn by making mistakes along the way. The important thing is to learn from it and move on.

What has been the greatest hurdle in starting your own business?

The packing, shipping and rising costs of materials. Unfortunately, barriers between countries have become ever so complicated, so finding companies to work with that have competitive prices has been hard. Very often we wondered if this was the right time to launch our company due to the various events worldwide, and every single time we said ‘yes’.

Z62 5756 scaledHow do you approach marketing and PR?

From the beginning we decided to invest our time in social media (especially Youtube, Instagram and Facebook). We have decided to contact magazines like 91 magazine and very niche influencers. 

What have been your business highlights so far?

The response we’ve had. We were not expecting to get any orders for the first few months since we are brand new. But to our surprise we have, and not only are we so grateful that someone loves our products but it also gave us an opportunity to improve how we manage our business and how we can make our customers experience even better.

Where do you sell your work?

We sell everything online. Our clients are welcome, by appointment, to come and visit our available stock in our warehouse.

Handmade marble placemat created by artisanal furniture makers The Limoncino

Do you have any creative pastimes or hobbies?

Yes, many! Matteo is a professional in skiing and spearfishing and loves it. We are blessed to live near the ocean and in a country that allows us to enjoy amazing weather for seven-to-eight months a year. I love photography, visiting villages, learning about the culture and architecture of the place, and learning new artisanal skills from local artisans.

Any good advice for makers who are just starting out?

It’s never the perfect time to start something new. You’ll never have everything perfectly set up and you’ll make mistakes along the way. Learn as much as possible about your business and how you can connect your brand to your customers. But most importantly, you must love what you do, because otherwise you’ll tire out pretty quickly

Luna Candle Holder Terracotta The LimoncinoWhat does the next year hold for you?

The next chapter is setting up our bottega, evolving our collection, and possibly hosting several workshops during the year with some amazing creatives, artists and artisans from around the world. We are also in the process of refurbishing various apartments in our town, which will push our creativity even further by designing and building the kitchens, and most of the interior decor.

QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS

 

Describe your work in three words: artisanal, handmade, vintage

What are your creating rituals? Matteo’s are espresso and music from an Italian radio station broadcasting Italian old music or jazz

Tea or coffee? Matteo – coffee, for me it’s tea

Mountains or sea? Oh dear, this is hard because we love both, although we live near the ocean

Night owl or early bird? Matteo – early bird, while I’m a night owl

I wish someone had told me… Rome wasn’t built in a day. Be patient and enjoy the process. Overnight success doesn’t exist, it takes lots of hard work, dedication and passion. And best of all that we could be so happy and inspired in our forties.

thelimoncino.com

@thelimoncino

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